The downside to being a world-class prick is that you don’t get the benefit of the doubt, even in those times when you deserve it.
On Sept. 11, one day before Texas defeated Rice 42-28 to win its first football game of the 2015 season, many of the Longhorns’ biggest financial donors gathered in a club area of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
During a meeting of the Longhorn Foundation Advisory Council, Texas president Greg Fenves, who had been in charge of one of the country’s largest state universities for about three months, made a short opening address, then took questions from UT boosters.
The first question from the audience: “Why didn’t Texas give football tickets to the Rice marching band?”
Fenves turned to athletic director Steve Patterson for an answer.
Patterson explained to the crowd that Texas had provided Rice with 300 complimentary tickets to the game, as per the schools’ agreement. It was Rice’s discretion as to how to distribute the free tickets.
When the man who asked the question wasn’t satisfied with his answer, Patterson became agitated and started waving his arms, according to a person in attendance.
“I’m telling you, I talked to the Rice AD,” Patterson said. “I’ll show you the contract!”
The band question was the result of the latest in a string of social media-fueled controversies that surrounded Patterson. A few days earlier, an erroneous report indicated he had changed UT’s policy and was now charging visiting teams for tickets for their marching bands. In fact, six of the 10 schools in the Big 12 had historically charged visiting teams the full price of tickets for their fans and their marching bands. Until the recent construction of smaller stadiums at Baylor and TCU, the four Texas-based schools in the Big 12 had a gentleman’s agreement to provide complimentary tickets for band members.
“The story about the Rice band wasn’t even true,” said the person who attended the meeting. “But people hated [Patterson] so much they wanted it to be true.”
Don’t cry for Steve, Dubai.